Beta release documentation - released

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Now out of beta, please see Spidertxt Instructions for details 

Welcome!

We are excited to be releasing Spidertxt into our new website and are thrilled to have you on board as an official beta tester!

The duration of this beta phase is somewhat dependent on how the application performs, as well as your interaction and feed back on it. A three to four week timeline is expected before pushing live to the public. 

This forum article presents the features and functionality of Spidertxt, as it stands in this initial beta release. It provides instructions on how to engage in two-way texting between a mobile device or tablet from the cockpit to a ground based user via either a mobile device, tablet, or the spidertracks web interface.

 

Spidertxt System Overview

 

                     Spidertxt.png

 

The schematic diagram depicts the communication channels between a pilot and a ground-based user. Key points relating to this system are:

  • A mobile device in the cockpit pairs with, and connects to the Spider via Bluetooth
  • A Spidertxt message can be sent from the cockpit through the Spidertxt app to a mobile device
  • The recipient of the Spidertxt message can reply as they would with any other text message
  • The message conversation will also appear in the spidertracks website
  • The conversation can be conducted either from the mobile device, or from the website
  • When using the website, members who are connected to their Spider by Bluetooth are shown as online
  • Messaging can be initiated from the website to the cockpit, whether the pilot is online or not (timeout periods are configurable)
  • Note: The reply only link between the ground based mobile device and the spidertracks server. Messaging cannot be initiated from a ground based mobile, however, once a conversation is established communication can continue by replying to the inbound message which has been initiated from the cockpit.

 

Which mobile devices are supported?

Spidertxt is compatible with iOS (Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch) and Android devices. The handset or tablet must have Bluetooth.

 

Which Spiders are supported?

  • Spider S5
  • Spider S4*
  • Spider S2**

* Early versions of Spider S4 are not compatible with iOS. If you have a Spider S4 and are unsure whether or not you are iOS compatible, please contact us at support@spidertracks.com.

** Spider S2 with Bluetooth are compatible with Android versions of Spidertxt only. If you have a Spider S2 and are unsure whether or not it has Bluetooth, please contact us at support@spidertracks.com.

Note: All Spiders must have the latest version of firmware to be compatible with iOS. All Spider S5 units will have the latest firmware. Please contact support@spidertracs.com if you are unsure of your firmware version.

 

 

Setup

A) Spidertxt Identifier 

Within the go.spidertracks.com website:

  1. Go to Settings, under Personal, click on Personal Information
  2. Down the bottom of your Profile, enter a Spidertxt Identifier. This should be your mobile number, but does not have to be. Be sure to enter this in international format, for example in the US, a mobile 555 (111)-2222 would become +15551112222. In Australia, 0425 111 2222 would become +614251112222.
  3. Ensure all your members follow steps 1 and 2. 

 

                                                               identifier.PNG

B) Message time-out

As an Organisation Admin, you need to configure the message time out. This refers to how long a message will sit on the spidertracks server before being timed-out and therefore not sent, in the event the recipient does not connect to their Spider within the time selected. You are able to select either one hour, one day, one week, or one month. 

  1. Go to settings and click on Manage for your Organisation
  2. Click on the Spidertxt link from the left hand column, and select the appropriate period. Click Save.

 

                           timeout.PNG

 

C) Download and install Spidertxt on your mobile or tablet

Spidertxt is a free application available through the App Store for iOS, or Google Play for Android.

  1. Download and install the application onto your mobile from the appropriate link above, or by searching spidertxt.
  2. Open the Spidertxt application. it will ask you to enter your phone number. This must be the same number you entered as your texting identifier in the website, including the + for international format.
  3. Click on Settings and configure Notifications, Canned Messages, and a Signature if required. 

 

 

Using Spidertxt 

D) Pairing and connecting 

  1. Pair with your Spider. To do this search for Bluetooth devices within your mobiles settings. The Spider will appear as spidertracksXXXXXXXXX, where your Spider's 10 character serial number are XXXXXXXXX. You should only have to pair with your Spider once. Note: If you re pairing with an Android you will be asked for a passcode to pair with Spider, use 5203.
  2. Click Connect in the Bluetooth settings (this will happen automatically when you first pair with the Spider). Note: If you have an iOS device, you will have go to the phone Bluetooth settings and connect to the Spider every time you need to connect to the Spider. Android devices can connect via the Spidertxt app. 
  3. Open the Spidertxt app and click Manage Connection. This will display the number which you configured previously. Click Connect. The app will show that it is connecting, then waiting for validation. Validation can take a couple of minutes depending on the quality of the connection between the Spider and the satellites - the Spider will need a good view of the sky at this time. Once you have been validated you are able to send text messages.

E) Sending a message from the Spidertxt application 

  1. Click on the pencil icon in the top right. You are able to pull contacts from your address book as with any other text, however, all numbers must be in full international format or the Spidertxt app will not accept them, e.g., +155555555555 Please do not attempt to us any punctuation when entering the number for example (555)55555555 or 1-555-555-55555  Your message will likely fail to be delivered if the number is punctuated in any way.
  2. Write your message with up to 120 characters.
  3. Click send. If you are sending to a mobile on the ground we do recommend that you clearly identify who you are, by way of a signature or otherwise, as your cellular number will not be displayed to the recipient as the sender (the message comes from any of the spidertracks short codes instead).

Note: If you are sending a message to a mobile number which is also the Spidertxt Identifier for an associated member, then the message will be displayed in the message window which corresponds with that member's name. If you send to any other mobile number you will also have a record of the conversation in the website, however it will be listed by mobile number and not the recipient's name. 

 

Capture.PNG

 

F) Sending a message from the website

  1. Click on Spidertxt (if you do not see this menu, please complete section A) Spidertxt Identifier)
  2. Under the Members tab on the left hand side, you will see a list of all members which you can send messages to. This will include all members of Organisations which you belong to that have Spidertxt enabled, and who have completed step A) Spidertxt Identifier. If a member is online and validated they will be illuminated with a green icon as shown below. To send a message, simply select the member, type in the message box and send.

Note: The Aircraft option is not functional as part of this beta release.

                                 websiteInitiate.PNG

 

G) Messaging from a ground-based phone to the cockpit

  1. If you receive a text message on your mobile device through Spidertxt, then you are able to reply to that message as you normally would with any other text. Once communication has been initiated you are able to continue a conversation by replying to the last message which you have received. In the case where the device in the cockpit may have disconnected from the Spider temporarily, this arrangement continues to function and your reply message will be queued on the spidertracks system according to your Organisation's time-out parameters. 

 

Limitations

Some limitations of this beta release are:

  • Texting cannot be initiated from a ground based mobile phone; reply only.
  • You are not able to text cockpit to cockpit (no Spider to Spider communication).
  • Text to email recipients is not supported; SMS only.
  • Messages coming from the Spider in the aircraft to a user on the ground may not come from the same short code, meaning conversations for the person on the ground will not populate under one phone number. 
  • The names of some contacts are not shown in the To: field in the Spidertxt application for specific number formats.
  • If iOS Bluetooth connection is lost, the user must go back to Bluetooth settings and reconnect before connecting in the Spidertxt application. 
  • Characters must be ASCII only, accents are not supported. 
Have more questions? Submit a request

34 Comments

  • Avatar
    Dave Blackwell

    As beta testers of the Spidertxt feature in the new website, please proactively engage in discussion with other testers in this group about your experiences, thoughts, and queries. Spidertracks will also communicate with you through this forum  

  • Avatar
    Adam White

    Looking forward to trying this beta release. I'll let you know how it goes.

  • Avatar
    Dave Blackwell

    Absolutely Adam.. glad to have you on board!

  • Avatar
    Dave Blackwell

    Just an FYI regarding the billing of Spidertxt:

    Spidertracks does not intend for any of you to pay for the Spidertxt service during this beta test phase.  However, the automated billing system will include these charges on your monthly invoice. The way in which we intend to manage this is to issue a credit to your account immediately to follow which reflects these charges. This may not be ideal, but is the only functional solution we have for now, and we trust the this will be acceptable. 

  • Avatar
    Fernando Pardo

    Just started using Spidertext today and works perfectly from the airborne iPad to the website via a ground based PC. Messages work fine both ways. The SMS messages are also received on an iPhone on the ground in addition to the messages on the website, however, when the message is replied through the iPhone the following message was delivered: "Sorry, we couldn't process UR SMS. Please send UR reply from the same phone U received the original message or call messagemedia +61 3 96000777 for assistance". Meaning that two way message communication has only been possible from the airborne iPad to the website via a PC on the ground, and one way message communication only from the airborne iPad to a ground based iPhone. In addition, I would like to know if each message has a price. Thank you and good job.

  • Avatar
    Dave Blackwell

    Hi Fernando,

    Great to hear that things are working for the most part. Can you tell me who your cellular carrier is? 

  • Avatar
    Fernando Pardo

    Hi I would like to know if Spidertext messages cost anything during this beta trial period, thank you.

  • Avatar
    Fernando Pardo

    The phone I've been using is with Iusacell, and the other two phones the pilots have used are Telcel.

  • Avatar
    Adam White

    I've tried sending three messages to three seperate people and none have been recieved. I also tried sending two mark one messages and they were not recieved. Several days ago I had a tier one alert that was delayed three days before I recieved it. Not sure if there is a single point failure that is causing the problem or if these are multiple issues.

  • Avatar
    Dave Blackwell

    Hi Fernando,

    Thanks for that, our dev team will follow through with our message delivery provider to see if we can shed some light on that. With regard to the billing query, we will credit any charges which are incurred for texting during the beta phase. See the posting at the top of this forum.

  • Avatar
    Dave Blackwell

    Hi Adam,

    Were these messages less than 120 characters? Do these messages show in the message window within Spidertxt app on your phone? When you replied to your tier1 alert the other day did you use the keyword CLOSE, or CANCEL?

  • Avatar
    Andrew Esler

    Hi Adam,

    I am one of the developers working on Spidertxt.

    I have had a look at your account, and it looks like the numbers you have sent to via Spidertxt include brackets. eg +1(555)555-5555. The numbers need to be in the format +15555555555. There should be no spaces or punctuation (eg '(', ')', '-' ) in the number entered. Did you enter the number manually or select it from your address book? I will get the documentation updated to make the number format clearer. 

    The delayed alert is likely to be a different issue. 

  • Avatar
    Adam White

    Dave, messages were less than 120 characters and they showed up on the screen of my Ipad as sent.  Andrew, I did pull the numbers from my iOS contacts in the iPad. I tried to go back and edit the contacts in iOS and it will not allow me to have no parentheses, spaces or dash.  It automatically populates the format. The formatting issue really needs to be solved in order for the app to be of any use. I'm not going to carry around a separate contact list and I can't remember everyone's phone number I need to send a message to.

    Dave, can we start a separate ticket on the delayed alert?

  • Avatar
    Adam White

    Tried again tonight and the message was sent and recieved but the response was not delivered via Spidertxt. When I got back into cell phone range the response text was delivered over the cell phone network.

  • Avatar
    Andrew Esler

    Hi Adam,

    Agreed that a separate contact list would be a pain in the proverbial, the idea for Spidertxt was to pull from the existing contact list wherever possible. I have looked into the formatting issue, it seems to be a straightforward fix. I will post here when there is a new version of Spidertxt available in the app store.  

    Will look into why you received the response over the cell phone network. 

  • Avatar
    Adam White

    Semed to work better today, I manually entered the numbers with the proper format. All reply messages were recieved via Spidertxt. But my messages that I sent were recieved in duplicate. However I did have a new problem today. When I tried to text Randy White (he is in my members list) the app crashed and shut down. I can send the number to you via email if you would like to try it and see if it does the same for you.

  • Avatar
    Dave Blackwell

    Hi Adam,

    Glad to hear the app is working for the most part. I have made contact with you through the support ticket #8272 regarding Randy's phone number.

  • Avatar
    Jerry Lee

    Notable events while using [Demo2] for spidertxt during the time period 11 AUG 2013 to 15 AUG 2013

    (BT tethered device is iPad Mini with iOS mobile 6.1.3 onboard)

    • spidertxt application crashed a number of times upon message send. While I believe that the message did ultimately transmit, the application crashed immediately upon pushing the send button. This anomaly occurred even after a reboot of the iPad hardware. Restarting the application required a reconnection and (re)validation of the spidertxt app with Iridium. BT connectivity between iPad and the S5 in all instances was not lost. 
    • occasional duplicate or triplicate receipt of inbound messages. 
  • Avatar
    Mike Laughlin

    I had the opportunity to use the Spidertext for the first time today, I was using an Apple Iphone5 in the aircraft and messaging other Apple IPhones.  Here are a few issues and thoughts on the system:

    -Messages I sent were not always received. Usually my initial message was received, then once a message thread was created, my subsequent messages would not always make it through. About only 10%to 20% of messages would get through from me to them.

    -Messages I sent were always received in duplicate, in one instance my wife had 3 separate message threads going for 1 message thread from my Spidertext App. Each response would land, what seemed to be randomly, in 1 of the 3 threads in her iPhone, this made a normal text conversation somewhat difficult.

    -Every message sent back to me, from either of the threads created on the contacted party, was received in my original thread, 100% of the time.

    -Sometimes a message I sent would also initiate a Spider message 1-4, or an alert status

    -Once I landed or got back cellular connection the message threads would come to me as standard text messages as well

    -It would be nice for the App to accept the format from Apples contact list, but once a thread had been created you can always just go back to it. So I really only had to enter in once the number I wanted to message, so was not so bad.  But for general release I feel this would be a pretty big deal.

    -Pairing the phone through settings every time before going into the Spidertxt App, then having to pair again in the App, is going to get quite tiresome. I know that my DeLorme unit auto-pairs each time. Is this possible to change?  I have 9 pilots flying 6 different aircraft and I know that if it is not simple, no one will use it.

    • Once I was paired I never lost connection between phone and unit until power off

     

    Overall, with a few glitches worked out and a few modifications it has incredible potential in my opinion.

  • Avatar
    Dave Blackwell

    Hi Mike,

    Great to hear from you! We have had a look at your activity and it seems as though you have not configured Spidertxt within the new site? The messaging that has occurred has, by chance, been driven by previous settings within the old site. 

    The delivery of event notifications with Spidertxt messages is something we have not previously come across. We will investigate this further. However, in the first instance lets get you setup on the correct platform, as this may resolve other these issues as well. Please follow the steps within this forum to get your Spidertxt settings configured. If you require any assistance with this please don't hesitate to contact us. 

  • Avatar
    Luke McCarthy

    Hi Dave,

    I have sent a message from the website to the Spider, and on the website it is showing the message as 'failed', however this message has been received in the Spidertxt app. 

    Will provide further details tomorrow. 

    Luke

  • Avatar
    Andrew Esler

    Hi all,

    I have released an updated version of the Spidertxt app to the iOS app store. The updated version should be able to handle importing contacts whose numbers contain punctuation. 

    Please let me know if you experience any issues with it. 

    Andrew

  • Avatar
    Dave Blackwell

    Hi All,

    Just wanted to touch base with everyone with a bit of a 'stock-take' of events at this point in the beta test phase of Spidertxt 

    • The recent update to the Spidertxt app appears to have resolved the area code formatting issue which occurred within the North American region.  We have had positive confirmation of this - thanks Adam!
    • We are having some challenges in connecting to the Spider with some Android devices, so far these have been specific to the Samsung Galaxy, with both the S2 and S3 - we are investigating this further and hope to have some resolution before too long
    • Often messages are being delivered in duplicate and/or by way of Message Media - this appears to be an implication of preexisting configurations within the old website. We continue to investigate this and also hope to overcome this issue before long 

    We appreciate your participation in this beta test and look forward to your continued engagement in the process. Please keep the feedback coming. We will be sure to keep you all informed of any and all developments as we move forward.

     

  • Avatar
    Fabien Morandat

    Hi, 

     

    We are using an S4 unit in the south pacific since a couple of months. We highly appreciate the ability to use spidertxt on apple device now. Since we have experienced problem with new spidretxt version since a while. 

    First it seems to work properly. outgoing messages were travelling really fast to ground operator's cellphone. Incoming message (from ground cellphone to airbone unit) took a while (5 to 10min), but finally go through.

    since we have noticed incoming message ends up on cellphone via regular mail once unit reach gsm range.

    have not been able to fix it yet ?

  • Avatar
    Daniel Owen

    Feature requests: 

    1. web site feature: incoming message alerting to alert flight follower of a Spidertext message.
    2. app feature: addressees shown as editable names instead of phone numbers
    3. app feature: stored templates with auto fill data fields, such as PIREPs with position, time, and altitude auto filled, and both pull-down menu and free text editable meteorological  condition fields
    4. future app feature: integration with flight planning apps to file flight plans from the aircraft
    5. future app feature: integration with Air Traffic Control to request/ receive IFR clearances from remote locations where no telephone or VHF communications are possible from the ground
  • Avatar
    Dave Blackwell

    Hi All,

    How's everything going with the beta testing? 

    Fabien - the propagation delay is likely Spider specific and not the Spidertxt application, I'll contact you to follow through our support ticket regarding this.

    Daniel- thanks for the feature requests!! We have discussed some of these as both short and long term functionality for Spidertxt. One of our developers will post you a summary of this to follow.

    Duplicate Messages and Delivery via Cellular Carrier:

    We have determined that this issue is not related to the Spidertxt application, or the new website specifically. It is a function of having pre-existing account configurations within our old website. As we move away from the old service, this problem will cease to exist. In the short term we have one of two options to remedy this:

    1. We can remove your account from the old website - this is the desirable option but will have implications on iSpiderViewer if you are using that

    2. We can attempt to break the link in terms of Spidertxt, but leave your old account functional

    Do any of you require the use of iSpiderViewer over the next couple of months? (following this there will be a new mobile app available).

     

  • Avatar
    Andrew Esler

    Hi Daniel

    web site feature: incoming message alerting to alert flight follower of a Spidertext message.

    This has been discussed, but will not be available in the initial release of the website. We are planning to look at ways to integrate notifications for events throughout the Spidertracks website in the future.

    app feature: addressees shown as editable names instead of phone numbers

    Which app are you using, Android or iOS? Could you please expand upon what you mean by "editable names"?

    If you select a name from your contacts list, it should show as a name. The names are editable on the Android application, but in iOS application only the contact name is shown.

    app feature: stored templates with auto fill data fields, such as PIREPs with position, time, and altitude auto filled, and both pull-down menu and free text editable meteorological condition fields

    You can create templates with the canned messages functionality, but there is no support for auto filling variables. This is something I would like to look at in the future. The main problem I see with this is that messages are limited to 120 characters, which may limit the usefulness of templates.

    Do you think 120 characters would be enough for your requirements if auto filled templating was available?

    future app feature: integration with flight planning apps to file flight plans from the aircraft

    Not planned at this time, but request noted.

    future app feature: integration with Air Traffic Control to request/ receive IFR clearances from remote locations where no telephone or VHF communications are possible from the ground

    Not planned at this time, but request noted.

    Thank you for your feedback, it is very useful to know what features our users would like.

  • Avatar
    Adam White

    My organization uses the iSpiderViewer app quite a bit. But the duplicate messages are quite a pain to deal with. I know that we are supposedly going to be reimbursed for the texting charges during the beta test but the system is billing for the duplicates and the sooner we can clear this up the better. Is the date of a new app release a moving target? My vote is for trying to break the link in the old account but keep the functionality of the app until we have a working and proven replacement.

    A thought on the template idea. You only need to transmit the relevant data not the template, the website could insert the data back into the template on the other end.

  • Avatar
    Dave Blackwell

    Hi Adam,

    Thanks for your feedback. We are working a couple things here in an effort to overcome this issue with duplicates. Will be in contact within the next day or so.

  • Avatar
    Andrew Esler

    We are testing a solution to the duplicate message issue and will be in contact on Monday.

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